NFL Week 3: Will the Real Alshon Jeffery Please Step Forward?
Last week I wondered if Shea McClellin could continue to develop into a productive player for the Bears. This week, I’m going to take a look at Alshon Jeffery and hopefully in that process find out who the real Alshon Jeffery is.
After a solid first week against Cincinnati, Jeffery had an underwhelming game against Minnesota. Despite being used on an end-around that gained 38 yards in the first quarter, he was quiet until the fourth quarter where he had a 12-yard reception on the final drive.
Tom Thayer broke down the film on Chicagobears.com and showed how the Vikings defensive ends were adjusting their pursuit of Jeffery and by the third quarter, when Jeffery was split out and in motion behind the back, the Bears had a wide open running lane for a first down.
I give coaches Marc Trestman and Aaron Kromer credit for using Jeffery in a creative way that fans in Chicago have never seen on offense.
While the runs are nice, it is important for Jeffery’s focus to be on becoming a better #2 receiver for the Bears. Similar to Shea McClellin, the Bears have pro-bowlers in Jermon Bushrod, Matt Forte, and Brandon Marshall on offense playing with Jeffery. Jeffery doesn’t have to focus on becoming an pro-bowl player on offense with other pro-bowlers helping to share the load offensively. He has to work on becoming a consistent, productive player in the Bears’ offense.
His production last year was hindered by a broken hand in week 5 against Jacksonville and then having a knee injury after week 11 against San Fransisco. He came back and caught a touchdown against Minnesota in week 14, but he reached his low point against Green Bay where he was responsible for three offensive pass interference penalties. While Brandon Marshall was quiet in that game against Green Bay last year, it doesn’t excuse Jeffery being responsible for three penalties, and not taking advantage of what Green Bay was giving him.
Some of the blame for Jeffery’s inconsistency has to fall on Jay Cutler, as he only targeted Jeffery 5 times in the game against Minnesota. If the Bears expect Jeffery to develop, they have to make sure that he gets consistent targets on offense and that the quarterback is looking his way.
Alshon Jeffery has to continue to take advantage of playing alongside Brandon Marshall. Nobody expects him to be a hall of famer on the Bears, they expect him to take advantage of favorable match-ups.
While the Bears are 2-0, there are many areas in which they can improve. One of which is Alshon Jeffery developing into a consistently productive target on offense. It requires teamwork, but if there’s one thing Marc Trestman has shown in his first season as Bears coach, its that the team is much more important than the individual.